Mac Fans Disappointed By The Keynote! Are They Forgetting The Last Twelve Months?

by Chris Seibold Jan 11, 2006

Browsing around the Mac section of the web, you can’t help but notice a certain lack of enthusiasm about the recent MacWorld keynote. The apathy is understandable, as far as miniaturized coolness goes the only thing attendees were treated to was a semi-redundant FM tuner add-on for the iPod. If you’re into the bigger stuff you were likely disappointed as well, the computer related announcements amounted to nothing more than a significant speed bump. So, for those who rate Apple solely on the new hardware that debuts at MacWorld, the depression is justifiable.

Why didn’t MacWorld live up to the hype? For one thing, Apple has set the bar high with the previous Macworlds and, more tellingly, the rumor sites had ratcheted expectations up to stratospheric levels for the most recent keynote. Between rumors as diverse as widescreen iBooks, Apple Plasmas with the Viiv chip, and a Mac mini based PVR sporting an online movie store there was a lot of room to be under whelmed. Sure, pulling off any one of the previously mentioned things seems possible but introducing more than one would be expecting a bit much.

This was the year, after all, when Apple announced the switch to Intel. Being a company with limited resources means that Apple can’t update every single product, roll out a new movie service and come up with a fully computerized Plasma TV all in the span of six months. Heck, Microsoft, with much more manpower, can’t even produce a new OS in 4 years (and counting).

Once the realization is made that Apple can’t possibly update every Mac and roll out fifty new products in a scant 180 days since the announced switch to Intel one begins to see the need for compromises. Or, put in a different fashion, Apple has to ask: what should get Intellized first. You have to think Apple made the right choices this time around. The PowerBook upgrade was a no-brainer, something had to be done about Apple’s aging laptop line. By introducing the Pro(fit) level ‘Books first, Apple ensures that people who simply have to have that Intel goodness are buying the higher margin item while also guaranteeing the iBooks don’t take an embarrassing leap ahead of the pro level stuff in terms of performance.

The iMac introduction is a little more puzzling, at least until you read Chris Howard’s excellent analysis. Mr. Howard opines that Apple will be making a serious push for market share this year. If that is the case, then the iMac introduction makes a good deal of sense. What product other than Apple’s flagship computer would be better served by getting the upgrade?

At this point, it is necessary to add one small caveat about the keynote introductions. While the PowerBook certainly needed a performance boost in the eyes of many the iMac didn’t need a boost processing ability. Recall that the reason for the change of processors was due to performance per watt. Yet there was a decided lack of info on battery life increases in the MacBook or energy savings in the iMac. The iMac, which had ample processing power before the switch, now has “twice” the performance of the previous iMac. Since performance wasn’t an issue, one has to wonder if the real benefit of Intel in the iMac has more to do with helping Apple than helping users.

For everything Apple did right at this keynote, it could’ve have been much more. It could have been the gadget infested, awe evoking event people expected. In short, it could have been simply outstanding. You should be glad it wasn’t.

Apple could have opted to introduce many more products at MacWorld. The Mighty Mouse was introduced in August but they could have kept it in a closet until MacWorld, just to have a trinket for people to run out and buy. The iMac with Front Row was introduced in October. Again, Apple could have chosen to wait and introduce the iMac with a built in iSight until it was powered by the Intel chipset, it would have certainly made the introduction more dramatic. That iPod nano no one can get enough of? They could’ve have waited until January 10. Immediately following the nano Steve could demo the iPod with video capability. The “one more thing” everyone loves? Television shows via iTunes, of course. Where Steve would squeeze the new MacBook Pro into all of that, would be anyone’s guess.

If Apple had picked the “Wow Them At MacWorld” route, the keynote would take longer than the 24 hours of Le Mans. On the other hand, no one would be griping about the lack of newness at MacWorld. Likely, people would be walking around still dumbstruck at the myriad of product releases. The choice probably would have made a great number of people happy, but it wouldn’t have helped Apple’s bottom line as much as the steady flow of new products.

And really, there is your choice. You can let Apple sit on four months of innovations just to leave the MacWorld attendees suffering from Apple new product overload or you can opt for a steady steam of innovation emanating from Cupertino. Those folks with longer memories remember 2005 as being a stellar year for new stuff from Apple, stuff we didn’t have to wait until MacWorld to get.


  • Yeah exactly. But also, it’s not so much about having already put out many of the great products recently, but that there are still plenty to come.
    If you consider that at WWDC we are likely to see:
    Intel iBooks
    Intel Mac Minis
    Intel PowerMacs
    Update to the iPod
    Update to the iPod Nano
    Update to the iPod Shuffle
    Likely to be something else new as well
    Demo of new Leopard features

    You could just keep adding to that list with items Apple are likely to release before the end of the year. And then there’s the mystical April 1st event coming as well.

    Maybe we’re just seeing a more steady stream of products now. But whatever way you see it, we’ve still got loaaads to see in 2006

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 299
  • I’ve never known a keynote in my 3 or 4 years following Apple closely, that fans *weren’t* disappointed. Thhe rumor sites raise everyone’s expectations.

    Even last year with the Pages, shuffle and Mac mini there was still a sense of let down, both because the rumor sites were right and thee were no surprises, and because - as always - us Mac fans hoped for something more. Last year we wanted a G5 Powerbook, from memory.

    I’m coming to the realization that Apple does things in smaller steps than we want. Plus they never releasee as much at a keynote as we want. But give SJ a break - he’s only got 90 minutes - and this once was so crammed he couldn’t demo iWork among things.

    For that reason I disagree somewhat with Luke.  Most of those things will either have already appeared anyway… hopefully. Leopard will be demoed for sure though. And probably the PowerMacs.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • The point is that releasing one MacBook Pro has rather deflated the move (ie no 12/17”).

    Also the two “new” products just look the same and are apparently faster (depending on how much you believe Apple’s famously ‘everything is not all it seems’ benchtests).

    Add in the Rosetta scenario (ie Apple users pondering how fast apps will run) and we are at OS X / Classic stations again.

    Ultimately I reflect thus - a bundle of new tweaks on the apps and finally a laptop that isn’t slowing up to the point of being a bit of a joke.

    The only bit for me that sucketh was releasing a laptop named “pro” and then hearing Jobs say how Photoshop running on it would be ok for “the rest of us” - ie a pro bit of hardware currently not up to running pro software (and of course you could argue either way whose fault that is).

    Finally - it was interesting to see how Quark has learnt that delaying making the move _with_ Apple costs them market share. It’ll be very odd if I end up, as a committed InDesign devotee, seeing Quark native on the new PowerMac whilst Adobe play catch-up…

    Marc Jones had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 14
  • Having pondered, I concur with the previous caller, maybe April 1st will see something new, but it’s a terrible marketing strategy to consider releasing anything new on that day - unless they play it up with something akin to “PowerMac Pro - seriously fast, and we’re not joking” (you get the point even if the slogan isn’t great!).

    Marc Jones had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 14
  • I’ve never known a keynote in my 3 or 4 years following Apple closely, that fans *weren’t* disappointed. The rumor sites raise everyone’s expectations.

    You are right.

    If fact my disappointment traces not to Apple but to that site that calls itself “Think Secret.”

    What a bunch of blather!

    Not only that… the little boy that runs that site prunes his comment section (the wimp can’t take negative posts).

    It should be noted that this site took some heat in comment sections. They didn’t lop out the negativity. They let it stand. And that my friends, is one difference between manhood and boyhood.

    koreyel had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 22
  • I tend to look at the Keynote differently.

    On the hardware side Steve delivered two new radically different Macs that required some major development work.  Lots of long days - including weekends - to get these out and there were around 1,000 people on the projects.

    Not impressed that there was not a different design for the iMac.  Actually there was - we saw it pre-released in October, but didn’t realize it.  Bringing in the new design at that time took care of inventory issues with “universal” components (since the G5 iMac will still be available) and gave us a sneak preview of what the Mactel version was going to be.  The PB replacement didn’t visually change a lot, but that might be because it is the most elegant design on the market.

    No iBooks or Mac minis?  Apple went with the Duo chips that were released by Intel.  The entry level Macs might be single core, which are due in a short time.  We’ll see them well before the education buying season starts.  Maybe Intel & Apple will settle on a chip price that will allow them to be Duo, but I’m now thinking single core.

    For the trinkets we have the new iLife and iWork.  the time Steve spent on iLife is a good indication of how important it is in selling Macs to switchers.  Continual increases in switchers will rely in large part to increases in iLife’s features.  It’s ironic, but PC users would probably be far more impressed with this part of the Keynote than the Faithful.  Maybe Steve understands this.

    MacKen had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 88
  • I think either Apple wanted to get Mactels out ASAP so they didn’t change much or there was a shortage of Intel chips, and they couldn’t release the products they wanted to.

    Although I’m happy with this keynote. I want a iMactel.

    shrimpdesign had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 16
  • I really feel that this is going to be a good year for Apple and Apple fans. Jobs said that all Macs would be powered by Intel chips by the end of the year. This translates into a steady stream of updated and new products being marched out of Cupertino this year. Many of those products will be expected and others will not be. 2006 promises to be a good ride for Apple fans.

    Kirbdog had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 1
  • Honestly there are simply more idiots within the Mac community than at any other time I can remember.

    It’s a computer platform…not a vaudeville show aiming to please you at every turn.

    Apple just completed yet another transition to a new computing architecture, delivered dual core consumer and prosumer products. Updated the best suite of applications for consumers bar none. and the people have the nerve to complain about a damn FW800 port that most aren’t even using.


    hmurchison had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 145

  • It’s a computer platform…not a vaudeville show aiming to please you at every turn.


    That’s a very good point. I think the fact that Apple under-promised and over-delivered (they said Intel chips would start appearing mid-2006) is enough, but some people are never happy.

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 299
  • About the design thing with the new iMac.  Had a long time PC user in the house this a.m.  (I’m still trying to get rid of the stinch!) and he flipped when he saw my iMac.

    Where’s the tower?  That’s it?

    In other words, would you change the way Marilyn Monroe looks like?  Not that my iMac does, but the iMac is the best looking ‘puter on the market.

    And I agree with the firewire thing.  Do any of you people missing FW want to buy mine?  I have no need for it.  I’ll sell it to you real cheap.

    SirGeorge53 had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 27
  • I have just watched the keynote and it was a bit more exciting than expected.

    With the syndication features of iLife, Apple is clearly into the business of cutting the grass under the feet of the next NT 5.2 release. The later is promising new ways of exploiting existing RSS newsfeeds while the former is all about creating new content. Guess which approach is more attracting…

    iWeb is a nice surprise and it just proves that desktop applications still beat web-based ones hands down when it comes to simplicity and usability.

    iMovie is in my opinion a killer app with its new “theme” feature. It looks amazing. Just hope that they can be customized by third parties.

    iLife is a cornerstone in the Apple strategy to grab portions of the market share. Last time I visited a local shop, all PCs were playing blockbuster movies while the Macs were freely accessible with a copy of iLife. Touching the thing helps to create the bond with the Mac See the heavy success of the iPod and the DS console: both can be touched all over and are selling like hot cakes.

    hitoro had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 12
  • hitoro - spot on. I agree, iLife is the “killer suite” in the consumer market, that Apple should be leveraging off a lot more than they do. As I keep saying, it was the reason I switched - and that was 2&1/2 years ago - look how much better it is now.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • I think the Quark announcement was more for Adobe’s benefit than ours…  SJ want’s to light a fire under Adobe’s butt.  I made a mental note about the lack of Adobe’s presence during the keynote and was disappointed.  I will not make the switch until the Creative Suite is good to go.  BTW- I’m still waiting for Typestyler to deliver their OSX compliant app.  Worst case of ‘vaporware’ I ever saw!!!!  BadBob

    RDWestofAK had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 1
  • It’s a computer platform…not a vaudeville show aiming to please you at every turn.

    Yeah a very good point.

    But not because it is true.
    Rather because it is wrong.

    An operating system should aim to please me AND entertain me.

    I am the God, it is the servant.

    That’s why I bought my first Mac years ago.
    It made me feel like the God rather than the servant.

    koreyel had this to say on Jan 12, 2006 Posts: 22
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